Dear Dr. Diane, I have a 4-year-old, long-haired Chihuahua named Zen who has the lovely annoying habit of barking at the door every time I decide to sit down and have a meal at my couch. If I take the time to stand up and simply give him a hand signal to walk away from the door or to say the command “enough,” he does stop and lays down. But if I don’t physically get up to carry out the command each time he will continue to bark. I don’t know what to do to break this pattern but it’s getting worse. He is now doing it when I have guests over to watch a movie or when I go into my room to get ready for work. What can I do to break this habit once and for all?
If I were you, I would “crate” Zen while I am eating or keep him in a separate room of the house until you are finished enjoying your meal. He must learn that he is not entitled to share your meal with you. Somewhere along the road of your relationship, it is my guess that you have shared some of your meals with him – only a guess! He must be disciplined and re-educated so that he doesn’t get away with this behavior – and I truly suggest you keep him in a separate room/crate, etc. while you are eating so he is not tempted to manipulate or upset you.
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